Top 10 Weird and Wonderful Medical Breakthroughs of 2011


2011 was an exciting time for the medical industry, with thousands of scientific breakthroughs bringing hope to patients and health experts across the world. Here, we give you our top 10 weird and wonderful medical developments of 2011:

10. Squalamine

virus killer found in dog sharks

Virus killer found in sharks

In September it was reported that a new compound found in dogfish sharks’ tissue could soon be trialled as a treatment for viruses in humans. Diseases like dengue, yellow fever and hepatitis B, C and D could be stopped in their tracks by the revolutionary treatment ( On a side note: hugging sharks has dangerous side effects (

9. Curcumin

curcumin and cancer

Spice with cancer reducing properties

November saw curcumin, a spice commonly found in Middle Eastern recipes, being hailed for its cancer-reducing effects. UNM researchers found that a synthetic version of curcumin, the substance which gives turmeric its hallmark yellow coloring, inhibits the growth of prostate cancer cells (

8. Bionic Lens

Projecting medical information in front of your eyes

A new generation of contact lenses is being developed by researchers at Washington University, which could one day project up-to-date medical information in front of the wearer’s eyes. The scientists envisage hundreds more pixels could be embedded in the flexible lens to produce complex holographic images (

7. Cancer Drug Cures CFS


Chronic Fatique Syndrome (CFS) cured by cancer drug

October saw hope for over 1 million people in the U.S., 250,000 people in the UK, and other people all over the world who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome. A small Norwegian clinical trial discovered that cancer drug Rituximab relieves the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, and can even eradicate the condition completely (

6. IBS Smart Pill


Smart pill for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Also in October, doctors at the Princess Grace Hospital in London became the first to use a new ‘smart pill’ to help people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The new SmartPill GI Monitoring System is a small capsule, which delivers accurate and detailed information about the gut. After swallowing the capsule it travels through the system, and analyses pressure, temperature, acidity, and the rate at which food moves along the colon (

5. Cancer Gene Test


Scientists in the US have found a way to screen cancer patients for a wide range of cancer-causing genetic mutations. This method could soon be used in routine clinical practise, leading to the development of targeted cancer treatments. The clinical test called SNaPshot can test for over 50 well-known mutation sites in 14 key cancer genes (

4. Alzheimer’s Brain Scan

Brain scanning for Alzheimer’s disease

In November a revolutionary brain-scanning technique for Alzheimer’s disease entered the final stages of a clinical trial, leading to hopes that patients could have access to it by the end of 2012. The test makes an earlier diagnosis possible for the first time, increasing the quality and even the length of a patient’s life (

3. Yervoy


Revolutionary skin cancer drug

A drug which increases the chance of surviving the deadliest type of skin cancer was licensed for use in Britain last summer. The new drug is the first advance in treating the disease since the 1970’s (

2. Glowing Brain Tumors


Last year, an experimental technique to make brain tumors glow began testing in UK trials, and could soon be used to aid surgeons across the country.

Participants will receive a treatment called 5-amino-levulinic acid, which makes the tumor glow under UV light during surgery. The glowing edges will enable surgeons to remove it more accurately. A drug soaked wafer will then be placed in the remaining cavity, slowly releasing chemotherapy drugs over 4 to 6 weeks and killing any remaining cancer cells (

1. Cancer Vaccine

cancer vaccine

Cancer vaccine on the market by 2020

A vaccine that could prevent 70 per cent of lethal cancers was developed by scientists in 2011, with hope that it could be on the market by 2020. In tests on mice the vaccine shrunk breast tumors by 80 per cent, and researchers now hope to pilot it on people within 2 years (zeenews.india).

By Chloe Hibbert of

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  1. It is amazing how far our technology had reached for a cure but I would like to add this amazing plant, The Lemon grass that has been discovered to have a potential to kill cancer cell and the potent and efficacy are really amazing, According to study, it works like chemotheraphy treatment but instead of the drug inserted to your veins, its a herbal plant prepared as tea.

  2. There are two broad types of cancer vaccines:

    Preventive (or prophylactic) vaccines, which are intended to prevent cancer from developing in healthy people; and

    Treatment (or therapeutic) vaccines, which are intended to treat an existing cancer by strengthening the body’s natural defenses against the cancer

  3. anyone else notice the “per cent”? It’s percent. One word having noting to do with the rate of pennies.

    • Actually, per cent is preferred in British English, percent in American English. Both versions are correct.

  4. If only someone could come up with a cure for the common cold. That person would make Bill Gates look like he would be living in poverty with the money he or she would make. Who knows, maybe someday…….Just Saying.

  5. absolutely amazing! not sure about curcumin in hte middle east but it has been a staple of Ayurveda and Indian cooking since about 2000 BC. doesn’t really taste like anything though but it gets put into almost everyfood and is what gives “curry” (not a real word in hindi) the yellow/golden colour.

  6. I take curcumin myself, four pills a day.

    It seems to have a lot of beneficial effects on the body besides preventing cancer.